The “second” Olympic tournament begins today for women’s water polo at the Rio Games.
All eight teams that entered the games advance to the medal round after a group phase that merely sets the seedings for the finals. Team USA and Italy won their groups and will each face No. 4 seeds in their quarterfinal matches on Monday.
The U.S. takes on struggling Brazil, which has scored a total of 13 times thus far, the lowest number among all women’s teams and 20 fewer than their opponents. Team USA leads the goalscoring tally with 34 and has given up fewer than five scores per game.
The next three matches are do or die, so we’re trying to distinguish them and play two tournaments… We’re happy with our performances but we know we can do better… We can’t get too happy because the next games are going to be way harder. USA’s K.K. Clark
That stout defense has been a key ingredient in Team USA’s success. Ashleigh Johnson has lived up to the pre-games hype with a gaudy .667 save percentage. The rest of the team has made opponents miserable with 10 field blocks and 23 steals throughout the opening round.
Group A leaders Italy will end the opening day of the medal round against China. Australia will take on Hungary, and Spain meets Russia to round single-elimination play.